Robert Levy: The Case for Resurrecting the Manchin-Toomey Gun Bill


On April 30, published a blog post by Jacob Sullum titled "A Libertarian Case for Expanding Gun Background Checks? I Am Still Waiting to Hear One." The post took issue with a recent New York Times op-ed piece by Robert Levy of the Cato Institute titled "A Libertarian Case for Expanding Gun Background Checks." We are now happy to continue the conversation by publishing a response by Levy, who writes:

On the merits, even if Manchin-Toomey will have little or no effect on gun violence and isn't the legal regime that libertarians would like, the compromise bill is superior to the legal regime we now have. The relevant comparison is not Manchin-Toomey vs. no background checks. Instead, it's existing law vs. the improved version of the bill that I've recommended.

The broader philosophic question is whether libertarians should endorse a compromise solution that does not comply with pristine libertarian principles. My answer is yes, if the compromise moves us in the right direction and we declare on the record our more principled position. That's why most libertarians support private Social Security accounts and school choice even though we believe that government should not be involved in personal retirement decisions and education.